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NFL Game Recaps: Week 13





Lions 34, Bears 17

  • The Lions entered this game in an offensive funk. They scored a combined 15 points in their previous two games, so returning home for a battle against one of the worst defenses in the NFL was just what the doctor ordered.

    Things were bleak at first. Detroit was down 14-3 in the first quarter, thanks to a Jared Allen strip-sack that he also recovered after beating beleaguered guard Rob Sims. The Lions' offensive line struggles were prevalent, as they were missing left tackle Riley Reiff, who suffered an injury in last week's loss at New England. However, Detroit was able to snap out of it, and after going 25 consecutive drives without scoring a touchdown, they found the end zone on three straight possessions.

  • Matthew Stafford had a fantastic outing. He rebounded from that lost fumble - which the Bears turned into a touchdown - and misfired on only 11 of his attempts. He finished 34-of-45 for 390 yards and two scores. He endured a couple of drops; otherwise, his numbers would have been much better.

    Both of Stafford's touchdowns went to Calvin Johnson, who was not battling a top-notch cornerback for the first time since his return from injury. He was going against rookie corner Kyle Fuller, who had been playing well prior to getting banged up a few weeks ago. Fuller was questionable heading into this contest, and he just didn't look like he was 100 percent. Megatron consequently was able to catch 11 balls for 146 yards and the two scores. It didn't help the Bears that they lost safety Chris Conte to an eye injury, but they wouldn't have been able to cover him anyway.

  • Elsewhere, only three Lions registered more than two receptions: Golden Tate (8-89), Theo Riddick (6-54), who was playing for the injured Reggie Bush, and Eric Ebron (3-23), who was guilty of a drop.

  • With Bush out, Joique Bell got all of the carries. He gained 91 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. One of his scores was a plunge from the 1-yard line in which he leapt over the pile.

  • The Bears, conversely, didn't have any chance to run the ball. They didn't even bother trying to establish any sort of ground attack, as Matt Forte had just five carries for six yards. Forte was stuffed on a third-and-1 try in his own territory in the first half. He at least made up for it by helping out his PPR owners with six catches for 52 receiving yards.

  • Chicago compensated for the lacking running game by throwing lots of screens. This tripped up the Lions early on, but they eventually figured things out. The Bears struggled to sustain drives after that for the most part, and penalties and sacks disrupted their possessions.

  • Cutler went 31-of-48 for only 280 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions that occurred late out of desperation. Both of his scores, which came early, were thrown to Alshon Jeffery (9-71).

  • Chicago's leading receiver was Martellus Bennett, who hauled in eight balls for 109 yards. Brandon Marshall, meanwhile, was highly inefficient; he caught only six of his 11 targets for 42 yards. He dropped a couple of balls.





    Eagles 33, Cowboys 10

  • What happened to this season being different? The Cowboys always managed to flounder down the stretch, but the consensus thinking was that this year would net another result. Most believed the Cowboys would find a way to win the division and thrive at the end of the season because Jerry Jones finally built the team the right way - from inside-out.

    However, things appear to be unraveling. The offensive front, which had done a great job of protecting Tony Romo throughout the early portion of the year, couldn't shield Romo whatsoever on Thanksgiving, as the Philadelphia defense sacked him four times and rushed many of his throws. Meanwhile, the defense is finally playing as poorly as everyone expected it to perform heading into the season.

    The Cowboys, quite simply, couldn't get off the field, as Philadelphia's offense was sharp, and unlike the previous three games, Mark Sanchez was mistake-free for the most part. His one blemish was a second-quarter fumble that was knocked out of his hand on a strip-sack by Tyrone Crawford. Luckily for Sanchez, one of his linemen was able to recover the football. Sanchez shook the loss of 10 yards off by immediately hitting Jeremy Maclin for a gain of 59, which featured some of the worst tackling you'll ever see.

    Dallas' defense as a whole looked gassed and unprepared this game. Countless missed tackles made this extremely easy for Sanchez, who finished 20-of-29 for 217 yards, two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) to go along with seven scrambles for 28 yards on the ground. Sanchez was extremely sharp, and his numbers could've even been better; he endured some drops by Riley Cooper, whom he got into a fight with during the fourth quarter, as well as a blown touchdown opportunity to Brad Smith on a miscommunication. However, we've seen Sanchez have great outings before, only to revert to his butt-fumbling antics a week or two later. Perhaps Sanchez can turn into a careful quarterback - this could be a good start - but remember that we're just one week removed from a game in which he single-handedly kept Tennessee hanging around with unforced errors.

  • Sanchez was outstanding, but the Cowboys had the most issues dealing with LeSean McCoy, who made their bottom-five run defense look silly. McCoy ran with great patience, something he had issues with earlier in the season, and he was rewarded with a 159-yard performance on 25 carries. He also scored once. McCoy lost a fumble deep in his own territory during the third quarter, but the Eagles' defense held Dallas to a field goal, thanks to shoddy protection from Romo's line. McCoy let another ball fall out of his hands later in the game, but he was ruled down by contact following a replay review.

  • McCoy didn't do anything in the passing attack, leaving the receivers to do all of the work in that regard. Maclin reeled in eight of his 10 targets for 108 yards. Jordan Matthews (4-51) secured Sanchez's sole aerial score, while Cooper (4-32) dropped a couple of passes.

  • As for the Dallas offense, I mentioned already that Romo didn't have much of a chance because his offensive line broke down. Fletcher Cox simply proved to be too much of a force. Romo finished 18-of-29 for 199 yards and two interceptions. One pick occurred late in the game and was meaningless, but the first interception came when this contest was still in doubt. It was an ugly pass thrown behind Terrance Williams. Romo, who missed an open Jason Witten on a fourth-and-3 in the second quarter, was picked on another occasion in which he carelessly flung the ball up for grabs, but the turnover was negated by a defensive hold.

  • With Romo struggling, Dez Bryant had a frustrating afternoon. Bryant still managed to lead the Cowboys in receiving, but had just four catches for 73 yards. Bryant should have drawn a pass interference deep downfield early in the game, but the officials inexplicably didn't throw a flag on Cary Williams. It wouldn't have affected the outcome of this game, but the penalty hurt fantasy owners, as Dallas would have been in the red zone. By the fourth quarter, Bryant spent some time yelling at Romo and various coaches on the sidelines.

  • The Eagles have been great against the run this year, so it's not a surprise that they stymied DeMarco Murray. The NFL's leading rusher was limited to 73 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. He also had six catches for 40 receiving yards.


    Seahawks 19, 49ers 3

  • I spent a lot of time in bed and in the bathroom during this game because I ate way too much turkey on Thanksgiving. I asked my girlfriend to give me a detailed recap of what happened (I would later re-watch it on the DVR). Her analysis turned out to be perfect: "Kaepernick keeps throwing a bunch of passes that don't hit anyone."

    Kaepernick had an abysmal performance, and not even his putrid numbers - 16-of-29, 121 yards, two interceptions - describe how terrible he was. He began the game by throwing high and behind Frank Gore on a routine checkdown. He followed that up with an awful pick, which Richard Sherman snatched out of the air; the pass was way behind the intended target. Sherman, who intercepted Kaepernick a second time in the final quarter on a late, forced throw, nearly picked Kaepernick off on a third occasion during the second quarter. In between, Kaepernick missed open receivers, didn't see his targets who were available for big gains, and even botched the clock management right before halftime.

    The 49ers might as well just pack it in if Kaepernick keeps performing like this. His regression has been inexplicable, and it's a huge mystery why the 49ers didn't design any runs for him. Kaepernick caused major problems for the Seahawks in the NFC Championship with his rushing ability, yet he scrambled only three times for 17 yards. Instead, Kaepernick, instead, spent the entire night targeting Sherman, who is now responsible for five of Kaepernick's 24 career interceptions, including the tip to Malcolm Smith. Sherman spent the entire fourth quarter trolling the 49er fans in the stands.

  • The difference in this game was the quarterback play. Russell Wilson, who told the media during the week that he and his team had their swagger back during the week, backed up his talk by going 15-of-22 for 236 yards and a touchdown to go along with seven scrambles for 35 rushing yards. Wilson, who was infinitely more precise with his throws than Kaepernick, should have thrown a second score, but a ticky-tack offensive pass interference negated his third-quarter touchdown to Paul Richardson. Wilson's best play of the evening was when he somehow avoided three sacks and found an open Tony Moeaki for a gain of 63 yards.

    The Seahawks can make another Super Bowl run if Wilson continues to play like this. The Seahawks won't have homefield advantage, in all likelihood, but they just proved they can win on the road. They hadn't prevailed in San Francisco since 2010, so this victory was highly impressive.

  • Marshawn Lynch broke the century mark again, gaining 104 yards on 20 carries. He missed some action with a tight back, but he looked strong in the second half. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, Robert Turbin reeled in Wilson's only touchdown when Lynch was out of the game.

  • Excluding Moeaki and Turbin, Seattle's leading receiver was Luke Willson (4-39), who nearly had a fifth catch at the very end of the game. Pete Carroll, for some reason, challenged the play despite the fact that the victory was well in hand. Like Carroll, I thought Wilson caught the ball before sliding out of bounds, but throwing the red flag was rubbing it in. Meanwhile, Doug Baldwin (2-28) and Jermaine Kearse (3-34) once again produced pedestrian numbers.

  • The 49ers had some disappointing receivers as well. Thanks to Kaepernick's immense struggles, Anquan Boldin (3-18), Vernon Davis (2-13) and Michael Crabtree (3-10) all disappointed their fantasy owners.

  • Frank Gore struggled as well. The Seahawks, who failed to contain the run for a stretch a couple of weeks ago, restricted Gore to just 28 yards on 10 carries. With Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor back in action, it appears as though Seattle has fortified its ground defense.







    Ravens XX, Chargers XX




  • Browns XX, Bills XX




  • Texans XX, Titans XX







  • Colts XX, Redskins XX




  • Giants XX, Jaguars XX




  • Vikings XX, Panthers XX






  • Steelers XX, Saints XX




  • Rams XX, Raiders XX




  • Bengals XX, Buccaneers XX




  • Falcons XX, Cardinals XX




  • Packers XX, Patriots XX




  • Broncos XX, Chiefs XX




  • Dolphins XX, Jets XX




  • For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.



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